Shi Davidi reports that the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets will play two exhibition games in Olympic Stadium in Montreal next spring:
The contests, to be held right at the end of the pre-season, will bring big-league baseball back to the Big O for the first time since the Expos left for Washington after the 2004 season. Hosting games in Montreal makes sense under the Blue Jays’ strategy of building a country-wide fan-base.
And makes sense if they want to put the kibosh on the nascent “bring baseball back to Montreal” stuff we’ve been hearing lately. Which, no, I don’t think will go anywhere any time soon, but if you’re the Jays you’re better off trying to claim as much territory as possible before that ball gets rolling so as to try and extract something from MLB if and when something happens.
As for Montreal: I’m curious as to how Olympic Stadium is doing these days.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.